Over the past ten years, Buenos Aires has transformed itself into a trendsetting compass for Latin American art. The city is constantly pushing boundaries, both political and aesthetic, which nurtures a fertile ground for innovation. Even in this changing atmosphere, you can find a simple, charming art gallery in an unexpected place. SlyZmud is located in Chacarita, an untouched residential neighborhood, next to Palermo, where you can still stroll around without bumping into tourists or trendy shops. Being off the circuit, it has been an interesting choice to house the gallery of my dear friends Nat Sly and Larisa Zmud (below).
Religiously on schedule, Nat and Larisa personally deliver invitations to the exhibitions they curate at their gallery. The experience begins, and anticipation starts building up. They hand over a beautiful printed preview of the artists’ work, so perfectly composed that I’m sure many of us collect them.
Nat Sly and Larisa Zmud.
Both Nat and Larisa have a sensibility for color and composition that is different from that of anyone else I know. Their eyes are always right, always inspiring, and I was not at all surprised when they decided to partner up, as I was not surprised when they chose to refer to their exhibitions as numbered “Compositions.”
On opening nights, special friends and colleagues flock to SlyZmud, and the doors are unlocked at 7 p.m. sharp. There’s delicious wine, the promise of a good time. Collectors, musicians, artists, art dealers, and other members of the contemporary Argentine scene mingle and exchange conversation among spectacular works of art.
“When we opened the gallery, we decided to call each show a Composition. We had always written down all of our ideas, and used, as a kind of scrapbook, the famous Composition Book, with the marble cover. At the same time, we felt that by carefully putting different artists together and relating them with the architecture of the space, we were composing, choosing different elements to create a final visual composition.”
Every time I visit the space, it is a different universe, unrecognizable, surprising, sensual, dangerous, delicate, and certainly fun. I love to find new artists through Nat and Larisa’s eyes, as well as to discover recognized artists who did not previously capture my attention. I am not in the art world, but this friendly and laid-back atmosphere makes this world more approachable and real to me.
Composition #14: Vicente Grondona
Grondona’s show was set up in such a way that you could carefully waltz around structures that held precariously placed vases. His work includes landscapes painted on cloth with light brushstrokes of bleach, as well as fascinating sculptures carved from coal. All the pieces are encapsulated within a mood, dictated by the paintings: one picturing the old port of Buenos Aires, and a second one, more personal and erotic. Both are romantic and nostalgic of a time that has passed and foreshadowed the harsher reality of our present. I thoroughly recommend this exhibit.
For more information, visit http://www.slyzmud.com/.
Photos: Javier Augustin Rojas; Valentino Arocena